Major League Eating: The Game Hands-On
We wrap our mouth...errr our HANDS around this competitive eating game.
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Little known fact: The people who compete on the Major League Eating circuit often refer to themselves as "athletes." Now, you might not think that someone who stuffs his or her face for a living would qualify on the same level as a LeBron James or LaDanian Tomlinson, but if you extend the definition of athlete, you might see their point. After all, these are people who manage to regularly pull off extremely difficult physical feats (that is, pounding hot dogs by the pound in two minutes without throwing up), all in a competitive environment. The upcoming WiiWare game, Major League Eating: The Game, looks to bring the world of competitive eating--and its athletes--to video game form, and we had a chance to try the game out for ourselves during the recent Nintendo Games Summit in San Francisco.
As you might expect, the idea in MLE is as straightforward as can be: Stuff your face as much as you can for two minutes in the hopes of out-eating your opponent. Just how you go about getting your gluttony on is what makes this game unique. To eat food, you first must get it in your mouth then chew it up, and both of these things are accomplished with the Wii Remote. The type of food you're eating will determine the kind of motion you use to put the food in your mouth. For finger foods, such as jalapenos and sushi, you make a tossing motion with the Wii Remote. For larger items, such as burgers and pizza, you bring the Wii Remote upward toward your face as if cramming it in your grill. Finally, for such food as corn or ribs, you hold the Wii Remote horizontally then move it back and forth, typewriter-style.
Getting the food in your mouth is only half the battle in MLE; you also have to chew it, which you do by paying attention to a mouth meter in the upper portion of the screen. As you load food in, bits appear in your mouth; simultaneously, a cursor in the form of teeth moves backward and forward over the bits of food. When the teeth cursor appears over a piece of food, you press the B button to chew it. Most food takes just a couple of chews to ingest fully, but if you press B at the wrong time, you'll bite your tongue and won't be able to chew for a few seconds.
The final piece of the eating puzzle is your stomach. Even the best pro eaters can fill up too quickly, and in MLE: The Game, you'll want to keep a constant watch on your stomach meter, which is found in the lower part of the screen. As you pile in the grub, your stomach meter will fill up. If you overfill it, or if your opponent grosses you out (more on that in a bit), you'll throw up, and as any MLE fan will tell you, the second food touches the plate for the second time, it's game over. To lower your character's stomach meter, you simply hold the A button and waggle the Wii Remote back and forth. Your character will then do a little dance to settle the food down a bit, and then you can resume stuffing your face.
Now, eating tons of food is only half the game in MLE: The Game. You're constantly competing against another player (whether it is real-life or computer-controlled), and as a result, the developers at Mastiff have given you some sneaky ways to upset your opponent while he or she is stuffing his or her face. These come in the form of power-ups, which are earned randomly as you pick up food. These power-ups can be offensive, such as burps or farts you can use to attack your opponents, causing them to throw up (if their stomach meter is high). Or you can use defensive power-ups, such as temporary invincibility or antacids that will lower your stomach meter. You can store up to two of these power-ups and activate them by pressing either left or right on the D pad. There are also the occasional minigames that occur at random in an MLE match. These can include a round of hot potato, where you're literally tossing a scolding potato at one another until it explodes, and a burp-off, which is exactly what it sounds like.
With real-life MLE pros, such as Sonya Thomas, Tim Janus, Rich LeFevre, and more on hand, there's little doubting MLE's licensing cred (though we didn't see IFOCE competitor and face-of-competitive-eating Takeru Kobayashi in the game). Each of the characters in the game will have his or her own style for competition--some will be speed eaters, while some will look to throw you off your gluttonous game by using attacks and so on. The game will also allow you to out-eat opponents online--one of the few WiiWare games with online multiplayer functionality. With a cartoon look and grade school humor, this looks like another fun entry in the ever-increasing catalog of unique WiiWare games. We look forward to its release later this year.